Grilled Eggplant Parmesan
By Kath Dedon
Last night I dusted off my cast iron grill pan to make Grilled Eggplant Parmesan. The recipe, created by Grace Parisi, is from the April 2013 issue of Food and Wine magazine. It is lighter than many other eggplant parmesan recipes since the eggplant is grilled instead of fried and it uses grilled fresh tomatoes instead of a heavy tomato sauce.
I wanted to keep it light and not use too much olive oil. I decided to grill the tomatoes first and I just brushed the grill pan with a bit of olive oil instead of brushing the tomatoes with oil. That worked just fine. I did, however, brush the eggplant slices with olive oil. I probably used a total of about ¼ cup of olive oil.
The recipe calls for oil-packed Calabrian chiles, which my local QFC does not carry. Instead of using the Italian peppers, I substituted a local oil-packed pepper, Mama Lil’s Kick Butt Peppers, which added just a bit of heat.
Food and Wine tags the recipe as “Fast” and claims that it can be made in 45 minutes. Maybe I’m slow in the kitchen, but it took me well over an hour to make the recipe. It was very easy to make, though, and it was sort of meditative to grill the 4 batches of eggplant slices and 2 batches of tomato slices.
Despite the fact that it is not a quick recipe, I recommend that you try Grilled Eggplant Parmesan because it is fantastic! It’s a very satisfying vegetarian main dish and I can’t wait to have some of the leftovers for lunch.
Grilled Eggplant Parmesan
(Adapted from Grace Parisi’s recipe in the April 2013 issue of Food and Wine magazine)
4 large plum tomatoes, sliced crosswise in ¼-inch slices
1 large eggplant (1½ pounds), peeled and sliced crosswise into ¼-inch slices
Extra-virgin olive oil (I used about ¼ cup)
1/3 cup chopped green olives
2 tablespoons chopped Mama Lil’s Kick Butt Peppers, or other hot chiles
¼ cup finely shredded basil, plus whole leaves for garnish
5 ounces Fontina cheese, thinly sliced
1. Preheat the oven to 450˚ and heat the grill pan over medium heat.
2. When the grill pan is hot, brush it with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle the tomato slices with a bit of salt, and put them salt-side-down in the grill pan. (They will not all fit; you will be grilling them in batches.) Grill for about 1 minute, until lightly charred. Sprinkle with a bit of salt (this is the side that was unsalted when put in the pan) and turn the slices over. Grill for an additional minute and then remove to a plate. Continue cooking the tomato slices until they are all done. (I was able to cook them in two batches.) Set the tomatoes aside.
3. Brush the eggplant slices on one side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Put some eggplant slices oil-side down in the grill pan and grill for about 2 minutes, until softened and lightly charred. While they slices are grilling, brush the top side with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Turn the slices over and grill the second side for about 2 minutes. When done, remove to a plate and continue to cook the eggplant slices in batches. (It took 4 batches for me to cook all of the eggplant slices.)
4. Stir the green olives, peppers, and shredded basil together in a bowl.
5. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange half of the eggplant into about a 9-inch square, overlapping the slices a bit. Layer half of the tomato slices on top and then add half of the olive mixture.
6. Place half of the Fontina cheese slices on top.
7. Repeat the layers: the rest of the eggplant, the tomatoes, the olive mixture and the cheese.
8. Bake for 15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly. Let it rest for 10 minutes, top with a few basil leaves and serve.
An unfortunately poor iPhone photo of the finished Grilled Eggplant Parmesan